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JMU Artist Gets a Spot on the "Moon Arts Ark"

Almost all of the equipment humans send to space eventually becomes inoperable and is left in space as “junk.” But what if some of that material could be redeemed – or at least remain as an indefinite testament to human beauty and culture -- not trash? WMRA’s Kara Lofton reports on an art project headed for the moon, and the role of one JMU sculptor.

The sculpture is called the Moon Arts Ark. It will be sent to the moon on the Carnegie Mellon University rover as part of the Google Lunar X Competition.  The rover is set to launch in 2017.

The Ark is the brain child of well-known space artist Lowry Burgess and is meant to be a kind of time capsule for future generations. The Ark will contain pieces of poetry, music, data and art that have been specially commissioned for the project.

The project team aims to pack as much information as possible into the six ounces of payload they are allotted on the rover, which is tiny. Tiny design is where Mark Rooker from James Madison University comes in. Rooker is a metal smith with expertise in micro metalworking. He has been commissioned to design the structural components of the sculpture.

Rooker holds up his contribution to the sculpture: four delicately woven components of wire, titanium plates, and gemstones.

MARK ROOKER: One of the nice things about putting art on the moon is that it will be there in 2000 years. My hope is that in 2000 years there will be people there to see the art to experience it, interact with it. Part of my interest in the space program, part of my love of science fiction is it is a very hopeful genre at its heart…that’s part of the charm of doing a project like this is that it’s by its nature a hopeful thing. You know you’re hoping when you put something on the moon there’s going to be people there to see it in the future.

Long after the rover and its lander are obsolete, the ark will remain, waiting, for the next generation of explorers to come and find it.

Kara Lofton is a photojournalist based in Harrisonburg, VA. She is a 2014 graduate of Eastern Mennonite University and has been published by EMU, Sojourners Magazine, and The Mennonite. Her reporting for WMRA is her radio debut.